Crisis of Affordability in Higher Education

with special guest Congressman McGovern

Wednesday October 14th | 1PM-5PM

UMass Amherst | Student Union Ballroom

Refreshments will be provided

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The Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) is hosting a Forum on the Crisis of Affordability in Higher Education. We are in an exciting time! Three Democratic presidential candidates have expansive plans to make public higher education debt-free, but we’re still facing an unbelievable student debt crisis, with more than $2.5 Billion leaving the Massachusetts economy to pay student loan debt.

One of PHENOM’s Guiding Principles is make higher education affordable. We believe “all residents of the Commonwealth should be able to afford public higher education, and all costs associated with higher education – from tuition and fees to housing charges and textbook costs – should be made affordable for all.”

This forum will explore both national and state level solutions to the Affordability Crisis: PELL Grants, Work Study Programs, Loan Forgiveness, Income Based Repayments, Open Resource Texts, and what it takes to make Public Higher Ed free in Massachusetts!

In addition to big-name speakers, and informative workshops, this Forum will also be a place where participants can take meaningful actions such as recording student debt stories, petitioning for the Fair Share constitutional amendment, and more.

Program of Events

(may be subject to change)

1:00 – 1:15 Registration & Refreshments

1:15 – 1:30 Opening Remarks

  • Natalie Higgins, Executive Director, PHENOM
  • Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, UMass Amherst

1:15 – 2:15 Higher Education on the National Scene & Audience Q&A

  • Congressman Jim McGovern, U.S. Representative for the 2nd Congressional District
  • Maggie Thompson, Higher Ed Not Debt, a campaign of the Center for American Progress
  • Moderated by: Natalie Higgins, PHENOM

2:15 – 2:30 Performance by Ben Grosscup, Four Years of College

2:30 – 3:45 Higher Education in Massachusetts & Audience Q&A

  • Representative Paul W. Mark, co-chair of the Student Loan Debt Subcommittee
  • Natalie Higgins, Executive Director, PHENOM
  • Luc Schuster, The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
  • Moderated by Joel Spiegel, PHENOM

3:45 – 4:00 Refreshments Break

4:00 – 5:00 Affordability Solutions Workshops

  • Organizing for Debt-Free Higher Education
  • You’ve Got Student Debt and Now What?
  • Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Fair Share Amendment Info Session / Training